Associate Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University
Senior Statistician and Health Research Methodologist

Dr. Eric Duku investigates the factors that challenge the measurement invariance of constructs used in comparative studies in early child development (ECD) research and ways to ensure that instruments used minimize bias as much as possible. This includes research into the measurement and statistical challenges associated with early child development research, social determinants of healthy child development with emphasis on the factors that challenge the measurement invariance of constructs used in comparative studies in ECD research.  

Dr. Duku works with Dr. Magdalena Janus’ team using the Early Development Instrument (EDI) for data collections to monitor and understand early childhood development. As part of the EDI Research team, he uses his expertise in applied statistical and research methodologies, the analysis of complex survey data, and school-based survey research. He is involved in the design, implementation, and statistical analyses for local, national, and international implementations of the EDI and cross-national validity of the EDI.  Dr. Duku is also a co-investigator for the Pathways in ASD study, a multi-site study to examine the developmental pathways of children with ASD and to identify the variables that influence these pathways. He is also a co-investigator and a collaborator on other grants with members of the Faculty of Health Sciences and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences. 

Current Activities

Some Active Research Projects:

The Early Development Instrument (EDI) National Research Program: The EDI is a 103-item questionnaire completed by kindergarten teachers in the second half of the school year that measures children’s ability to meet age-appropriate developmental expectations in five general domains: physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive development, and communications kills and general knowledge. The EDI is a reliable and valid measurement tool of developmental status completed on individual children between 3.5 and 6.5 years of age. After teachers complete the EDI on each individual child in their class, the results are grouped together to give a snapshot of how children are doing across schools, neighbourhoods, cities, or even provinces and countries. 

The Pathways in ASD Study – Phase III: This longitudinal cohort study is investigating the development of the core symptoms and outcomes in Autistic children, which will provide essential information on their prognosis. The study will also lead to a better understanding of the factors associated with healthy outcomes in children with special needs and typically developing children. There is a focus on the critical period after diagnosis at 2 to 4 years of age, the transition into school, a period during which there is wide variability in the development course of Autistic children, continuing as they grow and develop into their teen years.

Student Achievement Trajectories in Ontario: This project will advance the study of achievement trajectories in Canada by a) creating a population-level dataset in Ontario that tracks student achievement from kindergarten to grade 10; b) bridging Child Development and Life Course approaches with unique and rich mixes of holistic individual and contextual variables; c) using techniques for causal inference to sort out selection vs causal effects of schools; and d) creating a team of collaborators in 4 provinces to generate a national picture of student achievement. The Student Achievement Trajectories in Ontario project will create a cost-effective data source on achievement, help policy makers ascertain the optimal timing of educational interventions, and will spark national-level policy conversations by creating a national network of researchers.


Five Most Impactful Publications:

Chen, Y. J., Duku, E., & Georgiades, S. (2022). Rethinking Autism Intervention Science: A Dynamic Perspective. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 13. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2022.827406 

Georgiades, S., Tait, P. A., McNicholas, P. D., Duku, E., Zwaigenbaum, L., Smith, I. M., . . . Szatmari, P. (2022). Trajectories of Symptom Severity in Children with Autism: Variability and Turning Points through the Transition to School. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 52(1), 392-401. doi:10.1007/s10803-021-04949-2 

Forer, B., Minh, A., Enns, J., Webb, S., Duku, E., Brownell, M., . . . Guhn, M. (2020). A Canadian Neighbourhood Index for Socioeconomic Status Associated with Early Child Development. Child Indicators Research, 13(4), 1133-1154. doi:10.1007/s12187-019-09666-y  

Janus, M., & Duku, E. (2007). The school entry gap: Socioeconomic, family, and health factors associated with children’s school readiness to learn. Early Education and Development, 18(3), 375-403. doi:10.1080/10409280701610796a 

MacMillan, H. L., Boyle, M. H., Wong, M. Y. Y., Duku, E. K., Fleming, J. E., & Walsh, C. A. (1999). Slapping and spanking in childhood and its association with lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders in a general population sample. CMAJ. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 161(7), 805-809. 

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Research Interests

research methodology, applied statistics, quantitative methods and analysis

Education, Memberships, Certifications

BSc (Hons), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Graduate Diploma, University of Ghana, M.Sc., McMaster University, PhD., University of Ottawa

Additional Information

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